Piezo channels: tension, tethers and transduction

Mechanosensitive channels are fundamental molecular components of mechanosensory systems in all organisms. Over the last 5-10 years Piezo channels have emerged as a central mechanosensing family in mammals. They are indispensable for processes such as vascular development and red blood cell volume control. Central to their physiological function is their ability to sense mechanical forces. Using a combination of electrophysiological techniques we have endeavoured to understand the force sensing machinery of Piezo1 channels. Interestingly, much like their distant bacterial counterparts these critical reporters of the physical environment also have an innate ability to sense force.